Ontario Cannabis Store issues call for edible, topical products

The Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) put a call out for edible and topical cannabis products Sunday as Canada’s cannabis industry gears up for a new wave of legalization in the fall.

The call asked for product submissions for edibles, beverages, topicals, and extracts, saying that these new products will be available online through OCS.ca and “authorized private retail stores” in Ontario once they are legalized.

“This product call marks an important milestone in securing a broad variety of cannabis products that meet the preferences of Ontario consumers,” OCS President and CEO Patrick Ford said.

“We are committed to working towards eliminating the illegal market by diversifying our legal and tested product selection and offering customers the products they are excited about.”

The legal sale of edibles in the fall is being labelled the “second phase” of cannabis legalization, and some consider it a second chance for Canada to get cannabis legalization right.

The first phase of cannabis legalization began last October when Canada legalized recreational cannabis, but low supply and operational inefficiencies have allowed the black market to still make up a significant portion of sales.

In the first three months of 2019, 38 percent of cannabis users bought from the black market, according to Statistics Canada.

This poses risks when it comes to edibles, given that it is not possible to tell how much THC is in them without proper product labelling.

In Brandon, Manitoba, a two-year-old and a five-year-old ate parts of a chocolate bar that contained 750 mg of THC in February, resulting in the two-year-old being hospitalized in Winnipeg due to seizures and swelling in her brain.

Legalizing edibles will hopefully counter this risk by limiting the amount of THC in each serving to 10 mg, as Health Canada recommended in December, and requiring mandatory labeling.

“[We need to] make sure we get the regulations around edibles right so come October people won’t buy from the black market because they can’t find it through legal means,” said Dan Safayeni, the director of policy at the Ontario Chamber of Commerce.

“There’s a public danger because [black market edibles] are not regulated. We don’t know what’s in them, if that gummy bear has 10 mg or 50 mg of THC.”

Health Canada closed consultation on edibles products in late February, and plans to legalize them “no later than October 17, 2019.”

The product call is meant to kick-start the rollout of the new product categories, according to the OCS, but they note that it could take some time to develop and produce the new products, as well as get the proper licensing from Health Canada.

“The product call forms the initial stage of the OCS’s regular, open and competitive procurement process,” the OCS statement read.

Cannabis suppliers can respond to the product call through the website DoingbusinesswithOCS.ca, and have until June 28 to submit their ideas.

The legal edibles market is expected to be big business and presents an alternative to users who are looking to reduce their vaporizer and vape pen use.

Deloitte recently released a report that pegs the market’s potential at $2.7 billion, saying that it could draw in new consumers such as females who may be reluctant to smoke cannabis and prefer familiar “consumption formats,” such as baked goods.

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